SOAS University of London

About SOAS

Kanya King CBE MBE

Kanya King

Kanya King CBE MBE, an internationally renowned entrepreneur has, through her role as CEO, founder and visionary of the MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Awards, displayed the drive and ambition needed to help take urban music from the margins of British popular culture to the heart of the mainstream culture, not just in the UK but around the world.

Following her studies in English Literature at the renowned Goldsmiths College, London, Kanya took up a job as a TV researcher where she soon identified a gap in the market for a mainstream British awards ceremony celebrating music influenced and inspired by black music.

Since its inception in 1996, Kanya has built MOBO into a globally respected brand. With Kanya’s expert guidance, the MOBO organisation has established itself as a champion of diversity, inclusion and recognition for BME talent within music, culture, arts, fashion, media and larger society as a whole.

Kanya has since been presented with an MBE and has been acclaimed as one of London’s Most Influential People (Evening Standard), one of Britain’s Most Entrepreneurial Women (Real Business) and one of Britain’s Most Influential Black People (Thomson Reuters/JP Morgan Power List). In 2018 Kanya was honoured with a CBE for services to Music, Culture and Entrepreneurship.

Kanya is hugely in-demand as a media figure and a go-to person for public speaking at community, educational and corporate events, giving inspirational addresses to everyone from the British Library and Leeds Metropolitan University to Morgan Stanley and the Scottish Institute For Enterprise. Kanya also holds an Honorary Fellowship from Goldsmiths College. In Kanya’s own words:  “The reason I became successful, is because I refuse to quit, I see obstacles as opportunities. I’m proud of what I created with MOBO. Twenty years in, the organisation has a social and cultural responsibility to motivate, elevate and celebrate today’s creative talent and future generations. Something that is much bigger than music alone, and something much bigger than me.”


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Kanya King MBE, Honorary Doctorate (D.Mus), SOAS Graduation 2017